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We all get lonely. But if you are in a “season of singleness”, there is loneliness you feel that others may not. We, as image bearers of God, were created for two things: community and intimacy.

Sometimes as a single person, sadly even in the church, it is hard to experience these two things in a way that acts as a balm over the loneliness you may struggle with. Allow me to define these two words and tell a personal story of how I found out I needed both.

Community

Community is defined as “a group of men or women leading common life according to a rule.” I love this definition because it highlights two aspects of Christian gospel community. A community “leads a common life” meaning everyone in the group “does life” together. This means my experiences and events, good or bad, are shared among the people in my community, and I am not left to suffer, deal, or struggle alone.

The second highlight is the idea we do life together according to a rule. The thing that binds us together is a common agreement on a rule of living. For the Church, this is the Gospel and all of its beautiful implications.

We do this through the Holy Spirit, which we have because of Jesus’ death on the cross, which happened because God the Father, being rich in mercy, made a way for us to be reconciled to him (Eph. 2:4-9; 2 Cor. 5:18-21). In fact, it is in this Trinitarian view we see the Original Divine Community.

In Gen. 1:26, God says “Let us make man in our image.” The “Us” shows God was talking to someone. We see later on that God was talking to God. Being made in Gods image has many implications, but the one I want to highlight here is before time itself was even created, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had perfect communion with each other. So to be made in God’s image, is to be made in an image that requires communion. We were not made to be alone. We were made for community.

Intimacy

Intimacy can be defined as “Close familiarity or friendship.” The reason I chose this definition is because of the word “close”. Being close is what makes intimacy. Being close to someone affords a type of knowledge of them that goes beyond surface acquainting.

The Church refers to this as being “fully known.” Consider 1 John 1:5-7, honing in on verse 7: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Notice it says if we walk in light, as he is in the light. The “he” here is God. God is light. He is truth. The above Scripture implies to walk in darkness is walk to in a lie; we have no fellowship with God. But walking in the light is to walk in the truth, which not only affords us fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, but fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God has set it up so that walking in light not only allows for light giving fellowship vertically, but also horizontally. And light exposes. Light uncovers. Therefore, I am not called to simply go to church, shake a few hands, and leave. I am meant to walk in such exposing light that my brothers can see me for who I am. And that as God forgives and loves, my brothers and sisters offer me the same forgiveness and love. This is intimacy. This is being fully known. And this is what I, and everyone else, was made for. As the church, I am made to fully know you, and you are made to fully know me.

Experience

I recently sat down with a counselor, and I expressed how these past two weeks have riddled me with loneliness. And in this loneliness, I sinned. He proceeded to write two words on the board: Idolatry and Intimacy. He made me define both words, and then wrote two words under the word intimacy: “knew” and “fully known.”

In Genesis, when Adam slept with his wife, the Bible said he “knew” Eve (Genesis 4:1). The word for sex in the Hebrew in this instance is translated to “knew”. The correlation the Bible has between “knew” and sex says in a covenant marriage between husband and wife, the ability to fully know each other in exposing light is what gives way to God glorifying sex.

But how does that translate to one who is undoubtedly single? My counselor told me his story of getting married much later in life. The Church was the reason he was able to stay pure and chaste during his singleness.

Not simply helping at church functions or cleaning up after service, but actually engaging with church members in a way that allowed him to be fully known, even without a spouse. Being fully known by pastors, deacons, families, brothers and sisters in a way that allowed for the intimacy he was created for.

It was at this moment my tears of realization began to flow uncontrollably. I know that feeling. Throwing yourself into every church function, every small group meeting, coffee on Tuesdays and Thursdays, early morning bible studies, just to have the intimacy you feel is missing from your life. I understood myself now. Self-realization is a beautiful thing.

Psalm 139

Community builds intimacy. And intimacy builds stronger community. We were created to give both, and be given both. We were created by a God who sent his Son to die for us, so that foremost we could have community and intimacy with him.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful picture of the Psalmist reflecting on how God has always been involved in the intricacies of our life. This same God knows us so intimately. He knit us together in our mother’s womb, has known our unformed substance, and has searched our depths endlessly. We are fully exposed before him, and fully loved. That is our Creator. That is where our truest community is found. But being made in his image, we are created not only with the capacity to receive these, but with the ability to give as well.

Encouragement

To all my singles struggling with loneliness, ask God to provide you ways to be fully known. Challenge yourself to be involved in community. Ask the Lord for courage to pursue community, even if it’s risky. In fact, let’s pray for risky community!

We were not called to surface level community where our responses are “good” and “fine”. I am called to have relationships that search my soul and see the things I need to drag out. You were made for this. In the seasons of intense loneliness, your desire to be fully known has already been fulfilled ultimately in God through Jesus.

Though we groan with creation, waiting for the King of this earth to come back and make everything right, we know one day loneliness will fade away with everything else temporary in this world. You are fully known, and fully loved.

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